An excellent agency is squeaky-clean in its dealings with both hopeful adoptive parents and expectant parents. Ethics toward expectant parents may not be high on an agency checklist at the front end of an adoption, but make no mistake. It is in the adopting parents' long term interest (and that of their future child) to make sure that the child's firstparents are also treated ethically.
Here are some markers of an ethical adoption professional:
- Expectant parents considering adoption are referred to as a expectant parents or simply parents. Use of the term birthmother -- even when prefixed with the word prospective -- to describe a pregnant woman who might choose adoption is considered coercive. It's not until she legally surrenders her role as parent that she should have any prefixes attached to her title at all.
- Expectant parents receive neutral counseling about both parenting AND adoption options. Ethical adoption agencies provide this, and adopting parents should use one that does (there is enlightened self-interest for doing so: firstparents who don't feel victimized by The System are more likely to heal and move forward, which is better for all involved, especially the child. "Stuck" is not good.)
- Agency/professional provides ongoing grief counseling after placement.
Just as coercing a partner into marriage is void of integrity and not conducive to long-lasting relationship health, so is coercion in adoption. Adoption is ethical only when firstparents place with full information, no coercion, and all resources for the parenting option are presented.
Regarding Adoptive Parents:
- Agency/professional supplies accurate statistics on number of placements, number of waiting couples, average wait times, and un-placements during a recent time period.
- Agency/professional discourages matches prior to six weeks before due date. Expectant parents go through a lot of ups and downs, and adoptive parents don't want to be riding that roller coaster for more than 2 months.
- Agency/professional provides grief counseling to pre-adoptive parents who have experienced infertility. No child should be expected to fill a hole, and an excellent adoption professional should set adopting parents up for success by providing counseling.
- Agency/professional provides counseling on adoptive parenting, including the a discussion of the benefits of openness to the child (if possible) as well as handling adoption -related conversations with a child at various ages and stages.
- No less than 1/3 of the total cost for services is due at placement.
The agency/professional supports access for adult adoptees to their original birth certificates. Such information on one’s own DNA is a fundamental right which affects one’s physical, emotional and mental health.
by Lori Holden, author of "The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole"and writer at www.LavenderLuz.com.